LA Lakers: Do Any of the Lakers' Young Players Have Star Potential?
Whenever the 2011-12 NBA season begins, the Los Angeles Lakers will be one of the league's oldest teams, which might be an issue when it comes to the up-tempo offense new head coach Mike Brown is expected to install.
Brown's motion offense will challenge the older Lakers who had grown accustomed to Phil Jackson's slower, more deliberate triangle offense, but it may also allow the youth on the Lakers roster to finally be served; that is, if they are ready for the playing time.
Last season's second-round draft picks Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter played sparingly under Jackson, notorious for his refusal to give rookies any meaningful minutes, but it's doubtful Brown will take the same approach.
Conserving the energy of stars Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom without diminishing their production will likely be the main focus for Brown early on, and under that back-drop, Ebanks and Caracter may get a solid chance to prove they are ready for prime minutes in their second seasons.
The same theory holds true for the Lakers 2011 second-round picks Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock, who could potentially provide much-needed help at the point guard position.
Under Brown, Ebanks, Caracter, Morris and Goudelock will at the very least get a chance to prove they are NBA players, but do any of the four youngsters have star potential?
Potential can be a tricky thing because a team can sit patiently waiting for talent to develop, and before you know it half of a player's career is gone before the reality settles in that the potential will not be realized.
The number of players who have failed to live up to their talent level is far greater than the number of players who have parlayed their natural abilities into NBA stardom, and that simple fact probably eliminates Caracter immediately.
I don't mean to knock Caracter, but honestly, his career has been going backwards ever since he was one of the nation's top-rated high school recruits on his way to play for Rick Pitino and Louisville.
Most NBA analysts considered Caracter to have first-round potential before he ever played a minute in college, but it didn't take long for old demons that haunted Caracter in high school to resurface,
Despite Caracter's talent, he had already garnered a reputation as a player who had difficulty with authority, and even in high school Caracter had trouble maintaining stamina and controlling his weight.
A frustrated Pitino eventually gave up on Caracter—and his negative attitude—but he also lamented how a player with Caracter's natural size and God-given instincts in the post didn't take the time to consider how good he could really be if he actually wanted to.
Caracter finished his college career at UTEP and he may have finally gained a level of humility from his experiences, but the struggle to control his weight continues.
Caracter is listed as 6'9", and at 285 pounds, Caracter carries just as much weight as 7'2" Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who is considered a pretty big player in his own right.
I'm not sure if Caracter can ever conquer his love for junk food and all things fried, but I'm pretty sure his shot at being a star in the NBA ended in high school.
Ebanks is a much more intriguing star prospect than Caracter because he is the same height, and he is comfortable with playing and, more importantly, defending on the perimeter.
Also, Ebanks carries none of the same emotional baggage and his game, which was very raw at West Virginia, has shown improvement in the brief moments Ebanks has been on the floor.
Even with a suspect offensive game, Ebanks was often WVU coach Bob Huggins' primary option in one-on-one situations, and he excelled in offensive penetration when isolated.
Developing a consistent outside shot is probably the area of Ebanks' game that deserves the most attention, but if he is given the opportunity, there is a chance that he could be a very solid player down the road.
But there is a huge difference between a solid player and a star player, and there may be more star potential in the Lakers' most recent draft picks.
Morris and Goudelock both have great point guard size at 6'4" and 6'3", respectively, and they just happen to play a position of major concern for the Lakers, while they both excel in specific areas of the game.
Morris has drawn shadow comparisons to Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo because of his court vision and defensive potential. Unfortunately, Morris' offensive skills are shaky at best, and like Rondo, he has little to no jump shot from 15 feet.
Goudelock has no problem on the offensive end, as he was one of the most prolific scorers in Southern Conference history, and it doesn't hurt that some of his biggest shooting performances were against top-flight competition.
However, Goudelock will have to adjust to playing point guard at the NBA level, but for inspiration he can look to another Southern Conference alum who now mans the lead guard spot for the Golden State Warriors.
If Goudelock is interested in becoming a NBA star, what better example could he follow than that of Stephen Curry?
In no way am I comparing Goudelock to Curry, but he does have Curry's knack for filling up the basket, and in the NBA, that ability could be Goudelock's first step on the road to stardom.
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